The May long weekend is upon us, “May 24” as we affectionately refer to it in Canada.
For many of us we are well on our way with our outdoor spring cleaning, but for others they are just getting started. This is also the big traditional gardening weekend where we are finally safe from frost and can plant those colourful annuals.
Everyone has read an article on spring cleaning and gardening and most want you to take it slowly and warm up and give you some particular stretches to try and do prior to and/or after gardening or yard work. These are all really useful and we’ll even have more tips on gardening coming up in future blogs.
Today however, we are going to talk about my own first hand experiences that I want to share with you.
My first suggestion for the home owner who has a yard to maintain is to invest in a wheelbarrow that has 2 wheels on the front. They are much more stable than a traditional wheelbarrow. They also take up more space, so make sure you have room to store it when its not in use. I’d recommend one with a poly tray. It won’t rust so it will last you longer. Their stability and size makes them terrific for pushing around bags of mulch, bags of soil for lawn repair or top dressing the lawn, leaf bags, yard tools, hardscape products and even plants.
The end result is they make it easier on your back and core as you are not trying to balance a wobbly, heavy wheelbarrow. It also makes it easier to move products around your home from road side to the backyard.
Next, I would invest in a nice thick pad to kneel on. If you don’t have one, in a pinch take several flattened cardboard boxes and layer them and use those to give your knees extra cushioning when doing clean up in your gardens. Now my knees don’t handle prolonged kneeling very well, even with a thick pad, so they force me to change positions often and I think that this is for the best for everyone. Some of my gardening is done standing, sometimes I am on my knees, other times on my bottom sitting cross legged or even on one hip and glut. The changing of positions will make you less sore, it forces you to take breaks and change it up.
I have also learned that not all gardening tools are created equally. How they feel in your hand makes all the difference. Feel the grip and the weight of the tools that you will use all the time and find ones that work best for you. There’s no point in purchasing the deluxe model if it feels terrible in your hand and hurts your wrist. Take your time and pretend you are going through the motion of using your weeder, pruner, hedge trimmer, shovel etc., before you take it home. Case in point, I myself thought a long grass shear that I could use standing versus bent over would be easier on my back. Well, I brought it home and it is much too heavy for repeated use and I don’t have the same precision standing upright when I use it as I did with my lighter shears with the shorter handles!
My final tip today is investing in what we affectionately refer to as a “grabber” in our family. It is a lightweight rust proof reach tool with a rubber grip for grabbing just about anything.
I participated in Pitch in Kingston and cleaned up near the office for many years. Now with a new gas station across the street, I will look for a new place to clean up! The land when undeveloped seem to serve as a dumping ground for all kinds of garbage and debris. After hours of filling anywhere from 5 to 7 bags of garbage the continuous bending and straightening would really bother my low back, knees and hamstrings. I also found that many items were sharp! There would be broken glass, crushed cans with jagged edges and various assortment of liquids remaining in containers.
I thought that there must be something out there to limit by bending and allow safe handling of garbage and debris. I found a product on Amazon that worked amazingly well. A Grip and Grab.
I purchased the first one in 2014. The original is still going strong after hours of use! I got my Mom hooked on my grabber and I got her one as well! She used hers for years to not only pick up debris on the lawn but to pick up all the walnuts that fell from the walnut trees onto their lawn. It is great for picking up pruned branches off the lawn as well as thorn covered or prickly plants such as barberry branches or the odd thistle that I have dug out
My Mom loves hers so much she has one just for indoor use as well (reaching high items on a shelf!)
Well I hope my tips find you well this long weekend for whatever your pleasure!
Enjoy your long weekend from all of us at Kingston West Family Chiropractic!
Dr. Adrina Patterson, the chiropractor and owner of Kingston West Family Chiropractic, is an avid gardener. She loves riding her recumbent bike and travelling. She also enjoys continuously learning and improving her skills.